UUA President, the Reverend Peter Morales, traveled to Kolozsvar, Transylvania for the biannual Council Meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists – ICUU from August 31 – September 7, 2009.
During his visit he met with leaders of Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist national groups from around the world. The Council Meeting event consists of worship services, workshops, business meetings, and includes reports from each member group. During the reports we’ve heard about the highs and lows over the past two years for each of the member groups. Many of their stories have been inspirational – including the report of the Unitarian Christians of Indonesia who are making plans to start a seminary and the UUs of Hong Kong who were welcomed as an ICUU “emerging group” this year.
Achievements of member groups ranged from increased Administrative capacities (structural, strategic planning), Training and Development (professional leadership, education of new leaders, relationship building, worship materials, religious education expansion), new Activities (retreats, camps, economic projects, social justice, sabbatical exchanges). Strengths and Skills that were mentioned included Cooperative efforts, Commitment and Focus, Financial Stewardship, Multi-generational involvement, and Enthusiasm in the face of change.
The Issues and Concerns that were mentioned mirrored the achievements, including Membership concerns (high average age, instability, decreased members, growth efforts struggle), Financial concerns (diminishing resources, restrained budgets, international economic instability), and Structural concerns (admnistration, leadership).
But, the Hopes and Dreams that were described were especially inspiring. Ideas ranged from establishing international service/learning programs for yough, creating a seminary/training institution, developing published worship materials, expaning congregational commitment to ICUU, leveraging cooperation between member groups, increasing public witness and social action projects.
In attendance at the meeting were leaders from the following member groups:
- Australia and New Zealand UU Association
- General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (UK)
- Canadian Unitarian Council
- Religious Society of Czech Unitarians
- European Unitarian Universalists
- UU Society of Finland
- Deutscher Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft (Germany)
- Unitarian Church of Hungary
- Jemaat Allah Global Indonesia – Indonesia Global Church of God (Unitarian)
- Unitarian Union of NE India
- UU Church of the Philippines
- Unitarian Church in Poland
- Unitarian Church of South Africa
- Unitarian Church of Transylvania
- Sociedad Unitaria Universalista de España (Spain)
- Unitarian Universalist Association (USA)
And from the following emerging or perspective groups:
- Assemblée des chrétiens unitariens du Burundi (Burundi)
- Libre Congregación Unitaria de México(Mexico)
- Unitarian Umbrella Organization of Norway
- UUs of Austria
- UUs of Bolivia
- UUs of Hong Kong
During the business meetings a new Executive Committee was elected with the following members: Rev. Brian Kiely, President (Canada), Pauline Rooney, Vice-President (Australia), David Shaw, Treasurer (UK), Rev. David Gyero, Secretary (Transylvania), Rev. Nihal Attanayake (Philippines), Rev. Celia Midgely (UK), Olufemi Matimoju (Nigeria). A strategic plan was also adopted by the Council members, as well as a budget for the 2010 and 2011 calendar years.
The ICUU’s new staffing model was also introduced, which includes a 1/2 time General Secretary position, to which Rev. Steve Dick has been hired to fill. And a part-time Program Coordinator position, which is being filled by Rev. Jill MacAllister.
Additionally, the Council passed three resolutions. The first two addressed a recently passed law in Slovakia which criminalizes and fines the use of minority languages. The largest minority group in Slovakia is ethnic Hungarians, and while there aren’t any Hungarian Unitarian churches in Slovakia, the Transylvanian Unitarian Church has joined with other Hungarian churches to protest this law.
The third resolution requests that the ICUU asks the City of Torda (Transylvnia) to immediately begin exhibit an historic painting by Aladar Korosfoi Kriesch of the “Diet of Torda” which has been unavailable to the public for more than ten years.